For those of you who are new to Four Wheeler, the Jeep you see here isn't one of those one-off prototype rigs destined for a big auto show. No, this is our project Teal-J, post-AEV Brute pickup conversion, which we covered in the August and September '07 issues. It all started when a showroom-stock '97 Jeep TJ was purchased by Four Wheeler back in May 1996. At the time, the initiative was a joint effort between Chrysler's top brass and then-Feature Editor Ben Stewart to bolster interest amongst consumers for a vehicle that eventually became a 4x4 benchmark. Without a doubt, our editors, as well as Chrysler executives, never imagined that Teal would reach the near iconic status she enjoys today. And thanks to you, our loyal readers, we're still at it more than 10 years later. Teal-J is all grown up now, and unarguably in her prime as a Brute pickup. As such, she gets more attention than ever before. We're not sure if that's due to a lack of familiarity with AEV's clever Brute kit, or just plain excellence in execution. Whichever the case, we can't take the rig anywhere without being engaged in conversation about her. In this episode, we'll delve into the sweet new paint job and equally impressive bodywork that was completed by DC Customs of Ukiah, California, prior to her grand reintroduction at Easter Jeep Safari '07. Next time we'll tackle our Brute's interior upgrades including some trick creature comforts and a sweet cargo tie-down system. 1. Last time (Sept. '07), we showed you how the Brute conversion kit from AEV enabled us to stretch Teal-J's wheelbase by 36 inches. Once all the framework was complete, the guys at DC Customs started on the extensive bodywork. When it comes to prepping a vehicle for new paint, there are several things that can make or break the results. Highest on the list is a clean working environment. Here you can see Dustin Chernoh masking off a section of Teal's rocker panel. Great care was taken to ensure that overspray didn't get on parts we didn't want painted.1. Last time (Sept. '07), we showed you how the Brute conversion kit from AEV enabled us t 2. At first, we thought these $50 tubes of seam sealer were unnecessary. Dustin, on the other hand, knew better. Seam sealer is a product used by all professional body shops. It fills in the space between body seams, giving a more uniform and consistent appearance. After applying the stuff, Dustin smoothed it off with his index finger. Seam sealer uses two separate chemical parts, similar to an epoxy, and a special mixing gun to combine and apply the gluelike substance. Once applied, it only took about 15 minutes for each seam to cure rock-hard.2. At first, we thought these $50 tubes of seam sealer were unnecessary. Dustin, on the ot 3. Dustin insisted on using genuine PPG paints and chemicals for the project, citing years of experience painting cars with other lesser-quality chemicals as justification. This wasn't exactly good news to our already-blown budget. PPG is a premium brand; as such, it carries with it a premium price, and although PPG products are sought after by those who care about the finish product, our boss wasn't going to like the cool grand we spent on supplies to paint Teal. So we checked around and found a local dealer (Central Paint, also in Ukiah) who had fair pricing and great customer service. The products you see here made up the bulk of what we spent on the paint job. Every chemical has a purpose, and each is equally important, because even the most expensive paint is only as good as the prep work that went into it.3. Dustin insisted on using genuine PPG paints and chemicals for the project, citing years 4. Matching the OE teal color turned out to be a little tougher than expected. It took three tries to find the right balance of pigment.4. Matching the OE teal color turned out to be a little tougher than expected. It took thr 5. Prior to spraying the primer, Dustin spent nearly two hours inside the paint booth wiping down each panel with these special antistatic towels to ensure that dust and other debris were not going to be an issue. Here you can see the initial coat of teal being sprayed.5. Prior to spraying the primer, Dustin spent nearly two hours inside the paint booth wipi 6. Once the front half of the Brute was painted, the crew from DC Customs started working on the back half of the frame. Several hours were spent hand-sanding each and every metal part from the middle of the frame back. This painstaking effort removed all of the light surface rust, years of road grime, and other slight imperfections.After the half-day sanding session, we pushed Teal back into the paint booth so that Dustin could paint the frame semigloss black. As you can see, the results looked awesome.6. Once the front half of the Brute was painted, the crew from DC Customs started working 7. Instead of waiting around to watch Teal's new paint dry, we took the brand-new windshield frame (supplied by Quadratec) to a local glass shop to have a new Speedglass polycarbonate windshield installed. We like Speedglass because it will not shatter into a million pieces during a rollover like conventional OE automotive glass. Instead, Speedglass simply pops out in one piece, leaving little or no clean up. Speedglass is offered by Percy's High Performance and comes in a variety of different applications for many popular vehicles. It's scratch- and chemical-resistant, shatterproof, and 50 to 70 percent lighter than glass, so it actually helps lower your center of gravity at the same time.7. Instead of waiting around to watch Teal's new paint dry, we took the brand-new windshie 8. Next up for paint was the new Brute bed. Out of the box, this bed is a very impressive piece. You can easily tell that AEV spent some time designing this to hold up over the long haul. Additionally we found sweet added touches like provisions to install wooden bed dividers and an integrated cavity to protect the gas filler neck from loose loads. All these, combined with the fact that it was constructed from 14-gauge steel, gave us confidence that this bed was built to last.8. Next up for paint was the new Brute bed. Out of the box, this bed is a very impressive 9. After a day in the paint booth, our new Brute bed was ready for the next phase. Dustin decided it wouldn't hurt to use up the remainder of our seam sealer on the bed's interior prior to being Rhino Lined. He said that this would help the liner adhere to the bed seams and corners. This little detail will also prevent moisture from collecting under the liner later on down the road.9. After a day in the paint booth, our new Brute bed was ready for the next phase. 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